Chinese warships set sail for Djibouti


China is expanding its presence in East Africa with the addition of military personnel at its base in Djibouti.

The People's Liberation Army personnel are to "set up a support base in Djibouti", according to the report. Beijing says the base will be used for logistical purposes, such as resupplying ships taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. It started building the base, which is the country's first naval base overseas, past year and it will be stationed just a few miles from Camp Lemonnier, the only permanent United States base in Africa since 2002.

China's defence ministry said that a ceremony was held at a naval pier in the southern Chinese port of Zhanjiang, presided over by navy commander Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong. A US congressman claimed that a Chinese facility would endanger American military settlements in the region.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing that the facility would enable China to make "new and greater contributions" to peace in Africa, and the world, and would benefit Djibouti's economic development. China had already begun construction of a logistics base in Djibouti a year ago that they claimed will aim to resupply naval vessels working for peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Somalia and Yemen. He said that it is a support base which will serve Chinese troops when they escort ships for anti- piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. "This base can support Chinese Navy to go farther, so it means a lot", said state-run Global Times.

Placed at the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean, the naval base represents the "first pearl of a necklace".

Xinhua said the establishment of the base was a decision made by both countries after "friendly negotiations, and accords with the common interest of the people from both sides". The vessels are carrying Chinese military troops.

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It is stationed just a few miles from a USA camp, and France and Japan also have bases in the nation, which is about the size of Wales.

"So we see a number of uncharacteristic moves by China in the last few years - first, dispatching a battalion of peacekeepers to a conflict in South Sudan". Not officially confirmed information that the Chinese database can be opened in the small port town of Obock in Djibouti, where a small military targets Americans.

With Chinese banks being the major funders of at least 14 projects in the tiny nations, valued at about $14.4 billion, US officials wonder about the long-term durability of the US-Djibouti alliance.

China's foray into Djibouti is, however, not the first one. China also continues to assert vast territorial claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

But for many of those watching China's maritime ambitions, the setting up of the overseas base in eastern Africa suggests a fundamental shift in Beijing's stated policy of no "forward deployment". Beijing is investing in the construction of Railways connecting the African country, including the road between Djibouti and the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, as well as Railways in Angola, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia.